'Korean ship has no business in our waters'

Navy chief expresses fear that the vessel could be carrying N-components


Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said in Delhi that M V San “had no business” to be in Indian waters and that the maritime security agencies had fears that it could be carrying nuclear components. “The fact is that the ship had no business to be there,” he said. “That (it was carrying nuclear components) was our apprehension also. At the moment, it is carrying genuine merchandise.”

Coast Guard  Commander (Andaman and Nicobar Region) K R Nautiyal said: “We are in the process of investigation. Expert agencies, including Korean interpreters, are likely to come to facilitate better communication, because they (crew members) are not very good at English.” However, one information that the Coast Guard could extract from M V San’s captain was that the ship had entered the Indian waters, about 65 nautical miles south of Port Blair due to a mechanical fault, which could not be corroborated. “There are a few inconsistencies, which have been found about the ship, like some papers are not in order,” he said.

Since the cargo vessel was brought to Port Blair around 5 am on Friday, the investigating agencies have learnt and verified that the ship, which set sail from a port in Thailand on July 27, was carrying 16,000 tonnes of sugar to an Iraqi port. The Coast Guard had noticed the M V San anchored off Little

Andaman on Wednesday and its joint effort with the Navy to get a response to radio signals had failed.

Consequently, the Coast Guard flew one of its aircraft to check out the cargo vessel, but yet again the ship did not respond to its radio communication. The Coast Guard sailed its patrol vessel CGS Kanagalatha Barua and the Navy INS Brinkat to visit the cargo vessel and carry out investigation. On seeing the military ships, M V San tried to flee and the Coast Guard fired a warning shot to force it to comply to their order to sail to Port Blair.
“Our ships reached the cargo vessel around 9 pm on Thursday and M V San started proceeding in a different direction. At that stage, we had to warn the ship that we need to carry out investigations for safety sake,” Nautiyal said. “So we fired a round in the air just to make the vessel obey,” he added.

Nautiyal also said there were other issues that the investigating agencies had to verify from the cargo vessel’s agentsinvolved in supporting the vessel in various countries. “The ship was supposed to have gone to Iraq, but changed its destination, which happens while at sea. They could be asked (by their agents) to go to different location,” he added.

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